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Zero Tolerance Protection: Compliance Best Practices to Avoid Revocation

Written by Orchid


October 27, 2022


White text atop black background next to grayscale photo of President Joe Biden

If you’ve been following along, our Zero Tolerance Protection series has covered everything from the Biden administration’s zero tolerance policy to the revocation process. By now, you should know the most common FFL violations cited during ATF inspections, as well as those which can lose you your license. Throughout, we’ve also inserted tips about how to stay compliant and limit risk.

Below we’ll summarize some of that advice with six compliance best practices to avoid revocation.

Compliance Best Practices

Be Proactive
If you take anything away from this series, let it be this. Far too often, FFLs wait until compliance services are needed before caring about potential violations, but by then it’s likely too late. Don’t wait for ATF to show up and issue violations before changing your ways. Instead, be proactive in anticipation of your next ATF inspection or firearms trace request. Having a proactive mindset and implementing the remaining best practices will go a long way to keeping your firearms business in business. ‘Better late than never’ only applies if you still have a license.

Implement Technology
Today’s modern firearms businesses require modern solutions. A small, at-home FFL may be able to get away with paper recordkeeping, but large, high-volume operations need technology that can keep up. From electronic bound book and e4473 applications to integrated point-of-sale (POS) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, take advantage of industry-designed solutions to increase efficiencies, manage compliance, and save you money. Just don’t rely on technology as a crutch.

Input Good Data
Whether your business is paper or digital, your compliance is only as good as the data you’re using. From your bound book to your ERP, ATF Forms 4473 to inventory audits, your FFL runs on data. Maintaining this data is also required, needed to respond to firearm trace requests and ensure compliant operations. As such, it’s critical the data input into your logbooks, recorded on forms, and used to run your business is accurate, updated regularly, and meets regulation.

Inventory Often
No matter if you manufacture, sell, or stock 10 products or 10,000, performing regular inventory audits can protect your FFL from overproduction, stockouts, and revocation. With profit margins razor thin and repercussions for firearm theft/loss high, it’s important you know exactly how much of each product or SKU you have, as well as if counts match expected totals. Though time-consuming, frequent inventorying will result in fewer frustrations, headaches, and ATF violations for your business.

Train Employees
Unless you run a solo operation, your employees are the backbone of your firearms business. Responsible for performing day-to-day tasks, employees are also the first line of defense against regulatory violations. And while you and your appointed Responsible Persons (RPs) are ultimately responsible for ensuring proper compliance, educating and regularly training your employees on laws, rules, regulations, and compliance best practices will go a long way to eliminating errors before they become violations.

Inspect Yourself
Though increasing in number, ATF industry operations investigators (IOIs) typically inspect FFLs every three years. But who says you have to wait? Whether performed by you or with the help of a third-party expert, internal audits are the ultimate test of your compliance efforts without the risk of actual violation or revocation. Review all documents, records, inventory, and operations as if you were ATF and note any mistakes, errors and oversights you find. Then, make corrections and adjustments as needed to eliminate would-be violations without the consequence of corrective action.

Orchid Zero Tolerance Protection

At Orchid, our team of operations, technology and legal professionals understand the risks of today’s firearm businesses. For over a decade, we’ve worked with FFLs big and small to implement leading compliance best practices and software solutions to eliminate violations and protect licenses from revocation.

Throughout our Zero Tolerance Protection series, we’ve shared our expertise and experience in proactive compliance as we looked closer at Biden’s policy and its impact on the firearms industry, reviewed how to avoid and correct violations, and suggested ways to protect your FFL from the risk of revocation. Our series may now be over, but compliance must be maintained every day to protect your license.

Learn more about a Zero Tolerance Rapid Assessment of prior ATF Reports of Violations, your A&D Bound Book, and recent ATF Forms 4473. We also encourage you to watch our webinar on ATF zero tolerance enforcement, schedule an in-person or remote mock ATF inspection, and implement leading compliance software in your retail FFL. Contact Orchid today to protect your FFL from a zero tolerance revocation.

Biden Zero Tolerance Webinar